Minnesota organic farm profit rises sharply

Profits at Minnesota’s organic farms made a big jump in 2012.

A report released Tuesday by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and the University of Minnesota’s Center for Farm Financial Management shows a median net income of just over $85,000 last year, more than double the $38,000 organic farms earned the year before. 

The report is based on survey data from 56 certified organic farmers.

But organic profitability still falls short of the state’s conventional farms, Minnesota Public Radio reported (http://bit.ly/19ioGHh). The center’s study of more than 2,000 conventional farmers showed an average profit last year of nearly $200,000 per farm.

Size was a major reason. Conventional farms in the study were on average more than twice as big as organic ones, 838 crop acres versus 322 acres.

More acres mean more revenue. Organic producers also typically have smaller yields. Minnesota’s organic corn producers averaged about 127 bushels per acre, compared with 165 for conventional corn.

The one area where organic farmers beat conventional is the prices they’re paid. Organic corn fetched nearly $13 a bushel last year, almost double what conventional farmers collected.

And organic milk brought nearly $30 per hundred pounds last year, while conventional milk brought just over $19.

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